A second exit chance
The number of soldiers and policemen who have fallen in terrorism-related violence has exceeded 57 in the past 45 days. The 45-day “waiting period” has ended and the president is likely to announce today a call for a repeat election on Nov. 1 – so that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) can have a second chance to try to come to power with sufficient strength to bestow super-president powers on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. How many lives were lost up in the mountains of northern Iraq or in southeastern Anatolia? How many people were deprived of their freedoms and placed behind bars? Which is more important? The right to live or the greed of a politician?
These two issues might appear irrelevant for many people. They are wrong. Turks, Kurds, in police or military uniforms, in the lousy khaki outfits of the gang or in the lively, joyful clothing worn by the young girls and boys carrying toys to children in Kobane have all fallen victim to terrorism to feed the angry political animal that has failed to attain his targets.
It has become a cliché… At every conference or lecture, I keep on stressing that the right to live is the mother of all rights in the absence of which all other rights become totally irrelevant. Is it important at all for someone whose life was sacrificed for some honorable or dishonorable reason whether he has or does not have the right to object? S/he is dead. The game is over. Finito. Kaput. It’s so plain.
Nasty and greedy politicians obsessed with micro-nationalism have been trying to make the best use of the advantageous situation offered by the AKP’s corporate greed or the dictatorial ambitions of the tall, bald, bold and always angry man. “Self-governance,” they call the name of the new game. Small or big, a handful of settlements declared “self-governance” and a few local mayors have landed in prison because of such declarations while the separatist chieftain, who is enjoying a luxurious, enforced life term at İmralı island prison, must be rejoicing at seeing that, with some lofty rhetoric, he can still send people to their deaths.
Would it make a difference when the nation goes to polls on Nov. 1? Will repeat elections bring the AKP to power with sufficient strength to convert the de facto absolute rule of Erdoğan into a constitutional dictatorship? How many more gallons of blood are needed for a comfortable election victory so that the de facto system can become de jure?
Two days before the June 7 elections, in this column, I wrote that the election might either usher Turkey’s system of governance toward an elected dictatorship or save the fragile democracy badly hurt by the AKP’s 13-year majoritarian understanding. In the June vote, indeed, the nation did its best and 60 percent of the electorate told the AKP that they wanted a secular and democratic parliamentary democracy rather than a conservative-religious dictatorship adorned with Erdoğan.
Indeed, it was in the closing moments of the June 7 elections that on the afternoon of June 5, at a Diyarbakır rally of the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), some dark hands purported to belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group – although many believed it was the work of some deeper agents affiliated to some Turkish power dens – set off two bombs, killing many and condemning many to suffer missing body parts for the rest of their lives. Rehashing nationalist sentiments or using nationalism and such honorable feelings to garner more electoral support has been an unfortunate illness in Turkish politics, as it is in many other countries.
Since the “inconclusive elections” the AKP retained the government – thanks largely to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that shunned all government formulae that included the HDP – and the 45-day constitutional period to forge a government was wasted intentionally by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The name of the game, as was confessed by a former journalist-turned-AKP deputy, was to capture a second chance of coming back with a sufficient majority.
The elements of Turkish society that managed to forget about their petty differences and develop a strategic alliance to stop their country from plunging into a nightmare of dictatorship believed that June 7 was their “last exit” chance. Developments proved that though that “last exit” was used perfectly well, the AKP and Erdoğan, with their political crutch in the form of the MHP, managed to politically survive and make a last effort. For what? For a presidency with absolute power but with no checks and balances. Does Turkey deserve an elected dictator who repeatedly and publicly confessed aspiring to gather judicial, legislative and executive powers in his own hands with no checks and balances? Thus, apparently the “last exit” of June 7 was not the really “last exit” but the coming Nov. 1 vote will most likely be the last exit.
Probably, the November vote will produce an identical result and the sham that we have experienced over the past many months will be re-enacted with an AKP trying its second chance to make a strong comeback.
In any case, this exit chance must be utilized.